It looks like there might be a silver lining to China’s myriad food scandals, at least for the West. Gutter oil, toxic milk, and other food safety issues that are terrible for China, are increasing demand for foreign foodstuffs, thereby helping Western food producers thrive. Foodmag reports:
NSW [Australia] based dairy processor, Bega Cheese says that global prices are being underpinned by China’s insatiable demand for dairy.
Bega reported an 18 percent rise in half year profit, from $15.9m to 18.7m in the six months leading up to December. The steep increase is being attributed to China’s ever increasing demand for dairy – a commodity that is not being produced at adequate quantities locally.
Chinese regularly empty shelves in regions such as Hong Kong to ensure they can obtain foreign brands, particularly for products such as baby formula. Imported food carries ‘a very high symbolic value’, Professor Smart says, especially from countries that are known to have high food safety regulatory regimes such as Australia and Canada.
Some even joked that even Chinese breast milk is toxic, so they’d have to import wet nannies from Britain.
Quality meat comprises the other main demand. In light of the rat-disguised-as-lamb saga, and other fake meat scandals, Chinese are turning to red meat from New Zealand. In fact, their demand drove New Zealand’s sheep meat trade to China to $550 million in 2013, up around fivefold from 2010.
However, Western food giants will have to tread carefully. As past cases have shown, one slip will land them on the same blacklist as their Chinese counterparts. Profits for both McDonald’s and Yum! Brands flatlined last year due to hormone scandals, while Chinese chains like Kung Fu prospered.